Review : Portugal. The Man - American Ghetto
AbsolutepunkWe've seen quite a few bands make a career over the last decade. They release albums every couple of years, creating a small catalog for their fans to enjoy and witness live. It's a simple musical lifestyle that's pretty by the book. For Portugal. The Man, their past few years have been filled with an annual album. Each record, somewhat disappointing to some fans wanting more of the last effort, evolved the band's sound up until last year's breakthrough The Satanic Satanist. It was an album that was heard with open ears across a broad demographic of age and musical tastes.
Only months after Satanist's release, we were told that there would be yet another album released at the beginning of this year. This time around though, like the band's It's Complicated Being a Wizard EP, American Ghetto was mainly written and put together by songwriter John Gourley and then was collaborated with his other band members, bassist Zac Carothers, drummer Jason Sechrist and keyboardist Ryan Neighbors. The album was put together with ideas not fit for the flow of The Satanic Satanist, but upon first listen, it brings the band full circle.
With songs like "The Dead Dog" and "All My People," American Ghetto wraps hip-hop finesse found on Waiter: "You Vultures!" with Motown grooves of their last effort. (See also: "The Woods") But Ghetto, like the rest of the band's catalog, holds its own as another unique blend of a release, but still a familiar face of the same band trying to blend the best parts of rock and roll, pop and hip-hop rhythm, before it was trashed by more MTV sights than sound....full text
Reviewrinserepeat“Ghetto: /ˈgɛtoʊ/ [get-oh] –noun, plural. 1. a section of a city, esp. a thickly populated slum area, inhabited predominantly by members of an ethnic or other minority group, often as a result of social or economic restrictions, pressures, or hardships.” -Dictionary.com.
By titling their fifth album American Ghetto, Portugal. The Man (period always included) are not making a statement about the condition of America, despite your initial (and justified) reaction. No, the Alaska/Oregon indie rock outfit aren’t painting a portrait of the politics of this country. Rather, they are sketching the surface of those whom American marginalizes, those who are not heard - no, not the destitute…no, not the minorities…no, not the conservatives. I’m talking about the lower middle-class, those who live relatively comfortably compared to much of the world but are ignored because of America’s focus on the bipolarity of monetary means.
Thus, the American ghetto might be the dilapidated dredges of modern suburbia. Not the suburbia you see in movies, or the quietly fucked-up suburbia of the businessmen and the mildly educated, but the suburbia of those who are trapped by their addictions. Their addictions to lethargy (“The Dead Dog”), dead-end jobs (“60 Years”), and designer drugs (“The Pushers Party”); their addiction to a lifestyle that is as easy and capricious as it is fruitless and vapid. Their social, economic, and personal restrictions are self-inflicted, much moreso than those on welfare or those struggling to make a viable life for themselves....full text
UnderthegunreviewArtist: Portugal. The Man
Album: American Ghetto
Genre: Experimental Indie Rock
Label: Approaching AIRballoons, Equal Vision
Alaska’s Portugal. The Man have claimed the title of one of America’s most creative rock bands but are most notable for their ambitious out put of recordings. Since 2006 they have released an extensive five albums on top of four EP’s, not only are their large discography impressive but their hard work as a whole is also commendable. They have self financed much of their career and they rarely rely on support from outside contributors and this is almost unheard of in today’s music scene. Continuing to stray from industry stratagem Portugal. The Man are hard to pin to one genre but are heavily rooted in indie rock while incorporating elements of blues, soul and folk. Traditionally, while remaining true to their sound they are still constantly evolving and that remains true on their latest creation and sixth studio album, American Ghetto, now available on Approaching AIRballoons and Equal Vision.
Opening on a darker side, “The Dead Dog,” starts with a distorted guitar riff and introduces their newer synth noises that are frequently used throughout this album. Following with an eerie interlude “Break,” employs almost a “white noise,” affect with whispering vocals and keyboard work, this proves that Portugal. The Man are extending further by experimenting among spontaneous sounds, however, at times become overbearing. Fading almost flawlessly into the next track, “60 Years,” frontman John Gourley’s soft yet strong voice is complimented by recurring guest vocalist Zoe Manville’s ethereal vocals. Both vocalists interweave perfectly together and Gourley has drastically matured and offers a much deeper range than his higher pitched falsetto that we’re used to....full text
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